Horror is tricky. Marrying Horror to another genre can be even trickier. One of the more interesting mergers is the pairing of Horror with SciFi. It is a coupling that doesn’t always work. For every ALIEN (a brilliant mashup of Space adventure, Slasher, and Haunted House conventions) there are a ton like JASON X. In between, there are a few that get it right. One my personal favorites is Paul W.S. Anderson’s underrated space/horror film, EVENT HORIZON.
In EVENT HORIZON, a salvage and rescue crew investigate a massive spaceship that has suddenly reappeared after having been missing for seven years. They find it empty, but soon are subject to visions that make it clear that the ship has brought something back with it. Writer Philip Eisner pitched the story as “THE SHINING in space”, and the description is apt. In addition to giving us good scares and disturbing imagery, EVENT HORIZON is a compelling psychological story. We get to know and like all of the members of the Lewis and Clark (the rescue ship), and we are right with them as whatever is on the ship reveals each crew member’s darkest memories, fears, and desires. We genuinely want these people to survive, even though we are sure few of them will.
It helps that the film is so well cast. Lawrence Fishburne is commanding as the captain of the Lewis and Clark, and Sam Neill is perfect as Dr. Weir, the Event Horizon’s designer. They are joined by an outstanding supporting cast of American and British actors including Jason Issacs, Joely Richardson, Sean Pertwee, and Kathleen Quinlan. Combine these actors with outstanding production design, convincing special effects, and a terrifying soundscape and you have the ingredients for a superb outer-space fright fest. From there, it’s all brought together by an energetic and uncompromising directing job by Paul W.S. Anderson.
EVENT HORIZON boasts visions of Hell that are some of the most brutal ever committed to film. So incredibly disturbing were these images that Paul W.S. Anderson was forced by the MPAA to cut some 20 minutes out of the film. What stayed in is so horrific, it makes the mind reel at what must have been left out. These images go by quickly - they are only brief glimpses of horror, but that is all this film needs to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. This is not a film for the faint of heart.
EVENT HORIZON received mixed reviews on its release and generally receives mixed reviews today. It’s too bad, because this is a cool, exciting, and disturbing film that will stick with you. It is worth a place on the playlist of anyone looking for a decent scare.
EVENT HORIZON fun facts - The titular space ship is modeled after Notre Dame Cathedral.
Sam Neill’s makeup for his final scenes took up to 8 hours to apply.
Dr. Weir - “Hell is only a word. The reality is much, much worse”
Dr. Weir - “Where we‘re going we won‘t need eyes to see.”
Miller - “Have you ever seen a fire in zero gravity? It’s beautiful. It’s like liquid. It slides all over everything. Comes up in waves. And they just kept hitting him. Wave after wave. He was screaming for me to save him…”